Ten years ago, it could take three-to-six weeks of meetings, e-mails, hardware evaluations, and pricing negotiations just to get a set of servers provisioned for a development group. By 2010, using standard configurations and automated scripts in a virtual environment, CIOs could get those same servers up in either a public or private cloud in three-to-four hours. Today, we can do it in minutes. Having standard, automated scripts ready to provision different types of servers (such as development, QA, Web, or applications) in the cloud not only saved huge amounts of staff effort but also kept the business flexible.
These days, I manage a hybrid cloud computing platform consisting of both internal, on-premise infrastructure and a collection of third-party providers that I use on an "as-needed" basis to handle specific computing workloads. When you come to think of it, that's no different than the way in which we have used strategic offshore outsourcing partners to help develop and maintain many of our business applications.
Following the Y2K scare in the late 1990s, I spent five years learning how to virtualise my application and development teams by leveraging IT resources situated in Asia and Eastern Europe. I've spent the past five years doing the same thing with my infrastructure, blending the use of in-house computing assets and external assets to meet the needs of my business clients as cost effectively as possible. I guess history does repeat itself after all.
It's a good thing we were smart enough to hop on the cloud computing bandwagon back in 2010, or else we would never have had the flexibility and resources required to leverage the explosion in mobility applications that has occurred over the past five years. In fact, we'd still be spending 60 per cent of each IT dollar "keeping the lights on" for our legacy business systems.
Back in 2010, I had a good year if I was able to deliver two-to-three major new business applications and churn out the quarterly and monthly releases needed to support the "rat's nest" of legacy systems I had to maintain. I found myself competing with Apple and Android developers who were churning out 10,000+ new apps per quarter! It's kind of the same story as cloud computing. I gave up trying to compete with these mobile developers and became one of them instead. My team started developing much more granular business services that could be delivered on tablet platforms much more frequently. In effect, our application development teams evolved into small, internal software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendor teams, mashing together granular services to improve the productivity of our end-users and respond to competitive threats to our business.
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